COCOANUT. The cocoanut palm is a native of the islands which dot the Southern Pacific, but it is now widely grown in many other tropical parts of the globe, particularly in the West In dies, Ceylon and parts of India.
It flourishes best in the sandy soil along the sea-shore and frequently at tains to the height of one hundred feet —a long straight slender trunk, without either branch or leaf—perpendicular to the sky or leaning to one side or the other according to the mercies of the wind in its youth—with a crown of palm leaves for its head. The nuts hang downward near the trunk from the under-part of the crown—the yield aver aging from fifty to one hundred nuts a year.
The tree grows wild without care, but for commercial purposes it is raised in plantations or "groves." The cocoanut, as the average person sees it, is a large woody-looking nut, three or four inches in diameter, the shell enclosing an inside covering of half an inch or more of white meat, and holding a small quantity of cocoanut milk.
On the tree the nut is enclosed in a husk, two or three inches in thickness, ing to the stage of ripeness, and a green outside skin. When the nut is first formed inside the husk the shell is thin, and in place of the firm white meat is a thin of a white, creamy substance—which you eat with a spoon and find delicious—and a large quantity, two glasses or more, of sweetish water with a mild delicate cocoanut flavor. As ripening continues, the outside skin takes on a brownish appearance, the husk shrinks and becomes more and more fibrous, the shell of the nut inside becomes harder and the creamy substance and the water inside the shell become the firm white meat and the smaller quantity of milk that constitute the cocoanut of general sale. Theoutside husk is removed before shipment here, partly to save space in packing, but also because it is easier to ascertain the condition of the nuts —any damaged or cracked specimens are thrown out as they would either dry up or become rancid in transportation. The "eyes" and "nose" in the
"face" of the cocoanut—the delicate spots in the shell—are often tarred over to prevent the en trance of air.
In places where they are grown, "green" cocoanuts are generally preferred for eating raw, the "cream" and water being sought—the meat of the ripe cocoanuts being principally used for cooking, confectionery, etc.—and quite a few green cocoanuts are brought here during the year for special stores and individuals. They are gathered by natives who climb up, or rather walk up, the trunks—with the aid of a rope in the case of the taller palms.
Ripe cocoanuts are gathered after they have fallen of their own accord—fortunately for the native population they rarely fall except at night when the "seal" is loosened by the heavy dew.
The quantity of ripe cocoanuts sold in this country to be eaten raw is consider able, but the most important traffic is in the meat itself—dried, shredded, macerated, etc., for cooking, confectionery, etc.—and in the oil produced from it.
The greater part of the cocoanut meat utilized here is made in this country from whole nuts, 95,000,000 being imported during 1910; but large quantities, nearly 27,000, 000 pounds during 1910, are imported ready dried, coming principally via San Fran cisco from the Philippine Islands, the East Indies and the Islands of the South Pacific. It is commercially known as "copra." Cocoanut oil—in temperate climates, a soft white fat—is obtained by pressing either the fresh meat or the dried copra, the former being the choicer. It is imported in large quantities—principally from Ceylon and the East Indies (both direct and via England), in addition to that manufactured here, for use in cooking oil preparations, in the manufacture of soap, etc. There is an increasing consumption of cocoanut "but ters" prepared from cocoanut oil, especially in tropical countries, as it stands greater heat than dairy butter and is acceptable to many palates. Marseilles, France, is the center of the industry.